Dogtra E-Collar ARC Review : Love at First Site

The Dogtra E-Collar ARC: Advanced Receiver Concept (ARC) Review


The new Dogtra E-Collar Advanced Receiver Concept (ARC) arrived and it was as I had expected…sleek on the dog. It drew a hallelujah from me immediately. A package I’ve been waiting for finally made it into my hands today.

Take a look at the new e-collar on my boy, Tommy.

Dogtra ARC dog collar


The training community, particularly the pet training community, IMO, has been waiting for a streamline receiver for a very long time.

The Dogtra E-Collar ARC receiver is the biggest step in the direction of streamline and still affordable that we’ve seen, ever.

Now, I’m basing this preliminary opinion of the product mostly on appearance. If that makes me shallow, sorry but looks do matter. Anyone who tells you otherwise is denying a very real piece of the challenge in gaining acceptance of this tool in the broader marketplace.

I already know Dogtra Company’s ability to create durable, reliable products. And of course, as is my standard for testing, with receiver in hand, I took the rheostat up to see how smooth the transition is as you climb the stimulation range. Smooth is important and one thing I won’t compromise on with the dogs I work. The ARC did not let me down.

dogtra ARC

They also did well with the transmitter (TX). Very similar to the SureStim unit (my current personal favorite) with a few tweaks to the molding. It fits well in the palm which allows me to work the TX single handed. That means I can easily keep the other hand on the dog, the bumper, the treat pouch, the long line or whatever other pertinent piece of the training puzzle needs attending too. I like the ergonomics of slimline transmitters. Dogtra seems to recognize that women are comprising a larger and larger segment of the training market and having equipment that fits our needs as well makes good economic sense.

That is enough of a review for now…time to go train & play.

Let’s find out if this little gem is more than skin deep…

*Updated 1/29/16

E-collar helps formerly reactive dog learn to make better choices.

The other day I received a Facebook message regarding remote collar training from a colleague in Ontario. My friend, Karen Laws, from Ontario Dog Trainer, had a post on her wall from a recent client that she wanted to share. I asked her if I could also share here on The Truth About Shock Collars.




The story speaks for itself, proper use of an e-collar can help transform highly reactive dogs into calm, thinking pets that are a joy to live with.


I couldn’t have imagined telling this story 4 weeks ago.

It’s 5am and Tara and I are having our usual walk, though now off leash, along the waterfront park near our home. It’s still dark out as the sun has yet to rise. In the distance we can hear the barking of a couple dogs in a thicket ahead, Tara is curious but stays close by my side. As we approach, a red blinking light down on the beach tells me that someone is there with their own dogs and I’m hoping that they have them under control. We pass unnoticed. However, upon our return some 10 minutes later, as Tara and I approach the same beachhead, this time two medium sized dogs come flying out of the thicket barking up a storm as they charge us. Tara quickly steps forward on alert, still off leash, then amazingly looks back at me. I tap the e-collar transmitter and surprisingly with calm say, “Come!” And doesn’t my wonderful girl circle around my back and come to sit at my side!!!!! I hollar at the racing intruders and then hear their owner calling out to them to return. The dogs retreat and Tara and I are left standing on the pathway without incident. This can’t be my dog???

Tara was a rescue last year and came to us with a whole basket of control issues. Not that long ago, she would have launched herself without regard for anything at any excited animal approaching us, or passing by. This time she listened to me and thought better of her choices. I’m very proud of my Tara and very happy with the early results of her training with Karen. Who would have thought?

Steven Mitchell

Congratulations to Steve and Tara. The work you put in learning to use the e-collar as part of your training is paying off!

The words Shock Collar make me cringe

Yes, it is a true, those two words, Shock collar, don’t sit well with me. Not because I’m opposed to electronic collars, but because they further a perception that is inaccurate.

I recently gave a presentation for Scott Mueller and 16 of his students at Canine Workshops in Columbus, OH. Early in the day I directed students to this blog but made an apology for it’s title.


shock collar



The words “Shock collar” bother me too but the title of the blog was born out of necessity.


Until people are better informed on the versatility of electronic training collars it takes continual effort to educate about all the none painful ways they can be utilized. Remote training collars are what you make of them, they are no more shocking than a medical professionals TENs Unit. If you turn it up too high, they are certainly uncomfortable and can cause a significant startle response. Used appropriately the stimulation is at worse a mild aversive and at best a unique sensation that can be associated with any number of meanings.

That is what I set out to demonstrate to my fellow dog trainers during our time together. We talked about my belief that there are only 3 true levels on any of the remote collars on the market: too low (the sensation is undetected or does not gain the dogs attention) too high (the sensation startles or disrupts the dogs ability to learn) and Just Right (the sensation gains attention and enhances the dogs ability to learn).


The words “shock collar” apply when we are “too high”. That is a level we are encouraging people to avoid.


Instead of frustration with a dog’s behavior sending one running to the store to purchase a “shock collar” to punish a dog for doing “bad” we talked about the critical step of understanding HOW to TEACH the dog what attention getting sensation means. Teach the dog how to respond and have control of it. The feedback the dog gains is much like the child’s game of Hot and Cold and it is why the learning is so rapid when a remote collar is properly applied.

We talked about the use of rewards, proper timing, how body language influences, how to work in drive for more flashy performance.

I had a wonderful time. Thank you to Scott for hosting me and thank you to all who attended. I hope that the overall theme became apparent to everyone who was there. Our perception of the tool is what influences how we utilize it. I hope we choose wisely. Electronic training collars can be used to teach or it can be used as a “shock collar”

Proper Fit of a Remote Dog Training Collar | Robin MacFarlane

Rule #1: Proper Fit of a Remote Dog Training Collar Is Essential

Proper fit of a remote dog training collar is one of the most over looked reasons for poor results. Viewers write and tell me the e-collar “didn’t seem to work” or it didn’t seem like it was working so they kept turning the level up and then the dog startled. When I’ve had opportunity to witness these problems in person I generally find that the e-collar is just not fitted properly and thus the dog is not feeling the sensation consistently

So I decided to make a little video tutorial to help paint a clear picture of what a well fitted remote dog training collar looks like.

Why is proper fit of a remote dog training collar so important?

Simply put, if the contact points are not touching the dog’s skin the remote collar will not work. Skin contact is what completes the circuit to allow the e-stim to move across the skin surface from one point to the other. (Note: the stimulation only emits from ONE contact point, not both)

Remember that good fit happens through 3 key ingredients.

1. Properly sized contact points.  Length and thickness of the dog’s coat affect how the e-collar will fit. Dog’s with heavy or long coats (German Shepherd Dogs, Malamutes, Akita etc.) need longer points placed on the remote collar. Most manufacturers create collars that have interchangeable contact points. Length of the contact points can range from 1/2 inch to 1 inch, with varying sizes in between. There is also an adaptation called a contact pad that works well for dogs who are sensitive to long days wearing the e-collar particularly those with very short, white coats on the underside of the neck or those dogs whose neck is small in diameter and don’t fit as well in the standard contact point set up.

2. Snug fit.  In general, people tend to keep most collars too loose on their dog. I’ve often seen basic flat buckle collars that slip over the dogs head as soon as the dog backs up or applies a bit of pressure. A loose fit with a remote dog training collar means that there is inconsistent contact which will lead to inconsistent results.

3. A clean and well brushed coat. Dead hair, matted fur, dirt and debris can all build up and create a mess under any collar. It is important to brush and inspect your dog’s coat on a daily basis. Regardless of length of hair, your dog will benefit from a few minutes of grooming attention each day.

If you are having problems start at square one and check to see if it is fitted properly. For more info on training check out my recent interview about using a remote dog training collar.


and the Winner is:

Happy 4th of July!

America’s Independence Day seemed like the appropriate time to unveil the winner of our Bling Your E-collar contest. For many people and their dogs e-collar training has added a level of freedom they did not think possible.

Thank you to Caitrin and her dog Tulip for the inspiration to start this contest and to everyone who participated. We had some awesome entries!! You can take a look at the pics on the I Love My E-collar and So Does My Dog Facebook page. A very creative bunch of folks out there! I’ll be sending a goodie box to the pooch who sports the winning entry.

Thank you also to those who donated to our prize package: That’s My Dog! Inc. On The Ball K9, Michigan Dog Trainer, K9 Transformations, Follow Me Dog Training, and Dogtra Company. Because of your generosity a Non-profit Shelter of the Winner’s Choice will be receiving $700.00 to help with their homeless animals.

With no further ado:



Dog e-collar training: a case for clarity and another life saved.

Emily Stoddard from Canine Sports Dog Training recently sent me a success story of how proper use of an e-collar helped a dog destine for euthanasia.
Guinness’ story is not an unusual one, a dog with a less than desirable upbringing, going to a new home and the new owner struggling to rehab an animal who has learned the wrong behavioral response to anything he perceives as scary. Unfortunately the sad stories like his aren’t hard to come by. The positive note is that Guinness’ owner found Emily, a trainer who understands the value all tools can have in helping clearly communicate with a dog and make the surrounding world and our expectations of how to behave in it, clear.
I’ve come to believe that clarity is the single more important aspect of having a “successful” life. Whether we are talking about our own personal successes or teaching a dog how to operate in our human world. Being clear about our goals, expectations and the steps needed to achieve them sets the framework so we can move forward and conquer the hurdles toward our destination.

The advantage an e-collar brings to the task of dog training is that much of the clarity is built in and not dependent on the handler.

The timing of WHEN to push the button and HOW to help the dog understand the sensation is handler dependent, but after that knowledge is acquired, the e-collar does much of the work in providing neutral information and feedback that can guide a dog’s decision making process without getting caught up in expressed human emotion that is often too confusing for an already stressed dog to interpret.
The resulting clear information a dog receives via tactile cueing allows the dog to process more quickly and gives the handler an easier way to redirect to and thus reward more appropriate behavior. Learning to use an e-collar as a tactile feedback mechanism is the future of the tool. There are those in the know, who understand this and those who still believe the e-collar is a mid-evil torture device. Fortunately for Guinness, he found Emily, one of the people in the know. 🙂
Here’s the story Emily gave me permission to share with all of you.

This is one of my all time favorite cases…

I met Natalie through an apprentice program I mentor for a local open door shelter. She came to me after class one day at her wits end with one of her dogs, Guinness. She’d purchased Guinness from a man at the park that was mistreating him, what she didn’t realize was how deep his psychological wounds were. She’d been training with a local “pit bull only” group and he was getting worse, way worse. By the time I meet him, he’d landed a nasty, deep bite on a passer by on a walk and couldn’t leave the house without being muzzled and double collared. He looked like Hannibal Lector. I did an evaluation with Natalie and Guinness and asked if she’d ever considered e-collar work. While hesitant at first, she was willing to try anything to help her boy. First lesson was amazing and eye opening, Guinness responded so well that we even trained her other dog, Athena, on the e-collar as well.
So here we are about a year later and Guinness is a model canine citizen. He no longer needs his muzzle, he’s been integrated back into play groups with dogs, goes on large pack walks, he even seeks out affection from strangers!!! I received a text from Natalie the other day saying that Guinness was able to be completely muzzle free for his latest vet exam, our last hurdle! Here’s a dog that was days away from being euthanized due to his aggression,

now he’s the wonderful dog that we new he always could be and it wouldn’t have been possible with out the e-collar.

Attached is a picture of Guinness from this past summer’s pack walk benefiting a local rescue. 🙂
If you have a story about your dog and how the e-collar assisted with your training efforts, please share by sending to:

Remote Collar Training for Puppies?

Training for Puppies: “Never shock a puppy?”

If you have a new pooch and you’re looking for some help with training for your puppy, you can find a lot of great information out there. You’ll also likely find some strong opinions like; “never shock a puppy”.

Those are some scary words, meant to entice emotion and title to one of the anti e-collar campaigns…and I agree with that sentiment. I would never shock a puppy. I would NEVER advise someone to run out, purchase an electronic collar put it on their 6 month old pup, wait for them to be “bad” and then push the button. That, in all likelihood would cause some adverse fallout including possible superstitious behavior around people, other dogs or even objects.

However, I would use an e-collar as a communication device to guide a pup into behavior that can be rewarded. I would collar condition a pup so they have an understanding of what the stimulation means and how they could control the sensation. Then I would use the tool to encourage behavior I want and discourage behavior I don’t want.

Now you might ask why I or others like me would do such a thing and the answer is “because if you actually know what you are doing with this piece of equipment it is the fairest, fastest, most humane tool you can use to train your dog.” As part of well-rounded training for puppies approach, the remote collar can be a wonderful addition.

I believe remote collar training done well works the way a GPS system works when you are driving your car. You receive information for when you are off course and information of what to do to stay on the right route. No one seems to feel it would be more appropriate to create a GPS unit that ONLY tells you when you make the right turn while ignoring your “off route” moves. If you think about that it is pretty humorous…but I imagine it would also be rather frustrating if you actually want to arrive at your destination on time.

Imagine for a moment that I tell you “hey, lets get in the car and drive to the destination I have in my mind and I’ll only tell you yes when we are on the right route and I’ll give you a dollar every time you make a correct guess in direction” we might have a grand ole’ time for a bit, but I’m thinking we won’t get there any too fast. Now add in the criteria that getting to the destination correctly also means only then do you get to get out of my car, go home and back to your life you might get a tad frustrated about how long the task will take. It seems that when time begins to matter…we prefer more constructive feedback.

That is my perspective on reliable training for puppies or training for any dog for that matter. It is feedback, yes and no are both communicated to the dog. The challenge with educating about e-collars is helping people understand that “no” does not have to be painful or startling. I honestly try to understand the viewpoint that the never shock a puppy advocates are coming from. I really get it that there are some who will use a tool out of frustration and I am keenly aware that there is some lousy equipment on the mass market. Neither of those points are going to be debated by me (in fact they are part of the reason I keep speaking out)….but those points alone don’t convince me that the tool should be banned from the market. If that is the “ban stuff” criteria, than there is a lot of stuff that needs to be banned in the world.

In place of e-collar bans we need massive education and we seriously need the manufacturers to step up and take a lead role in this…the quality e-collar trainers out here are doing the best we can but it is time for some support.

Now this is just speculation, but I’m gonna go out on a limb here and question that perhaps what the anti e-collar advocates are really worried about is the fact that some of us can do things so much faster, with so much more reliability with this method of training that it is threatening to their careers. If they can’t compete with these type of results with their preferred tools and methodology then perhaps it makes sense that the easiest solution is to ban the tool that provides an advantage?

As far as making up your mind about if one should Never Shock a Puppy….tell me what you think of this little guy. He’s six months old. He came in because he puppy play bites, chases people, pulls on leash, does some nuisance barking, is scared of other dogs, jumps up a lot, and likes to play “catch me if you can”. This short clip was taken on the second day of his 2 week board and train program. As you are watching, pay really close attention and tell me how many times did I push the button on the remote collar? (cause Yes, I DID push the button, however I never shocked the dog)

Now here’s the disclaimer. If you have not used a remote collar before and you think this looks cool, it is but find HELP if you want to learn to do this with your dog. Training for puppies, or training for dogs, for that matter need not be that difficult. With a bit of time, education and commitment most anyone can achieve a well behaved companion.

Bugsy – Another happy outcome of e-collar training and a dog that doesn’t get re-homed, again.

Rachel and Bugsy

Thanks to Rachel for sharing her story about Bugsy. Once you read it you will “hear” the enthusiasm! Another pet owner who is over the moon happy that she was able to find a  trainer who could give her some real results and improve her relationship  with her dog. And notice in the story that Continue reading “Bugsy – Another happy outcome of e-collar training and a dog that doesn’t get re-homed, again.”

Yes, that is a Standard Poodle in the field!

e-collar training bird dog

Recently I posted a request for photos for the “I Love My E-collar and So Does My Dog” Facebook page. I received a lot of great pictures from our members but was particularly surprised when my inbox had a few photos Continue reading “Yes, that is a Standard Poodle in the field!”

More dog owners weigh in about training with a remote collar

Curious about how remote collar training might work for your dog?

Perhaps you are hesitant about a remote collar because you’ve heard others call them cruel?

Are you worried that using a remote collar might have negative fall out or side effects if you use one for training your dog?

You’re not alone. Most people Continue reading “More dog owners weigh in about training with a remote collar”